CU students start 'expert on-demand' site
Last Updated: 16:37 March 3, 2014
Congo Ltd. has closed on $25,000 in funding so far. Co-founder and chief executive Willy Ogorzaly said the company could close another $250,000 soon, and then would seek more this summer. According to a Form D filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week, the company could raise up to $1.75 million in all.
Congo - short for Consultation on the Go - is geared toward making consulting with a doctor or lawyer as convenient as possible. It is based on the premise that consumers want expert opinions. But their situation isn't necessarily so serious that they need to, say, go to the doctor's office, sit in the waiting room for 45 minutes, and pay for an expensive visit. Conversely, the consumer's issue might go beyond what can be answered simply by searching on Google.
Doctors and lawyers are the first expert fields Congo intends to target. But as the company grows, experts from several fields, from accountants to veterinarians, could be added.
"There's a whole world of industries out there that could benefit from it," Ogorzaly said.
The way Congo will work is a consumer logs onto the website, which is in a beta stage right now, and answers a few questions about the issue he needs answers for. The website then matches that person with an available lawyer or physician who is also logged on and whose expertise fits the customer's problem. Through the website, the customer then pays the expert a per-minute fee for the video chat.
Experts sign up with Congo and can make themselves available on the site when it is convenient for them. The experts set the per-minute rate for their services, and then pay Congo 10 percent of their revenue generated from the site.
Ogorzaly said Congo will not regulate the rates charged, but noted that in general the per-minute rates figure to range anywhere from $1 to $10. Consumers ultimately will be able to choose the expert that is right for them.
"The free market is really going to determine (rates)," Ogorzaly said.
The business plan has been ramping up quickly enough that both Ogorzaly and co-founder Tyler Cox have decided to put their studies aside. Ogorzaly dropped out recently with 21 credit hours remaining for his degree, while Cox is finishing one class before he does the same as competitors start to crop up in the market.
"We really needed to focus 100 percent on the business," Ogorzaly said.
Ogorzaly, originally from Austin, Texas, and Cox, from Broomfield, founded Congo last year with $10,000 of their own money. They ran it initially from Ogorzaly's house in Louisville, but have since set up shop at the Spark Boulder co-working space on University Hill.
The company recently hired a chief operations officer, and also has four contract employees working full-time. Ogorzaly said he expects to add about a dozen full-time employees by the end of the year.
The company's landing page on the Web right now is con-go.com. But some of the initial funding will be used to purchase congo.com. The next few months will be spent developing the website and signing up experts - the initial goal is 700 in the first year - in preparation for the launch. Once the website is up and running, Ogorzaly said Congo will work on developing a mobile app.
The company initially will focus on landing experts in Colorado. But Congo officials will also be traveling the country over the next year in an effort to roll out new states.
Ogorzaly said he and Cox have a three-year window where they can still sign up for classes at CU to finish their degrees if they so desire. But the hope is that they won't need to.
"By then we should know if Congo is a success or not," he said.
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